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Pastel can't be mixed like regular paint. We pastellists typically have to hunt and peck for the correct hue, value, temperature, tint and chroma in our available sticks. This can lead to the never-ending curse of trying to find the "perfect" stick and a sense that we need to collect more and more pastels to get things "right"...
My 16-year old daughter in all her wisdom has recommended to me that my blogs can't all be about technical stuff, so in that vein, I am talking this week about my companions in the studio. So if you don't like the photos of cute kids and cats, you may want to skip this week.....
Ah... Blenders. I use Blenders like the RED sprinkles among the other sprinkles on the frosting. Yep, very sparingly. This works for me nd takes some planning, since I can get carried away with them. Who wouldn't? Brightest colors, softest feel - what we pastelists love about the medium. Blenders are great, but ca mess up a painting faster than spilling water on it...
Gliders are the sprinkles on my cupcake. Pastels that are "gliders" are kind of special. They have this uncanny way of gliding over the top of other pastels making them great for deliberate mark-making....
Builders are my staple sticks. I think of them as the frosting on my cupcake. The delectable part.
So one of the best things about pastel for me is finding out how to get those pesky little sticks to act the way I want them too. No easy task. For years I created things that weren't quite right and I lost control of paintings along the way. Now, however, beyond thinking about the power of the sticks, (beyond color, value, and intensity too - Whew!). I also think about how they layer - do they play nicely with others? Some sticks are more cooperative than others....
When I was in 7th grade I had a crush on a boy on my bus. We were in the same grade and he always sat just ahead of me and had the most amazing blue eyes.....
I love little things
Especially when they remind me of a time and place that has special memories.
This tiny smooth pebble has been in my jewelry box among my gold jewelry for the past 15 years.
I have only one rule in my workshop. It has grown out of many years of well-meaning souls telling me what I "should" or "should not do" with my art. "You should paint in oils." "You should lower your prices." "You should raise your prices." "You should paint more realistically." "You should... You should..."
In the past few weeks I have been working with an awesome new model in my studio. The other day he noticed something interesting while I have been working....
New visitors to my home often check out my studio and quite frequently neighbors and such know I am an artist, but don't realize that I work in pastel. Once they see my setup and various sticks laying around, I have quite often heard, "oh! you work in chalk...." In the back of my mind a grating noise builds which sounds like something close to a metal rake being scraped down a blackboard. But, outwardly, I smile and say, "yes, something like that....."
A few years ago I had the opportunity to walk across hot coals in my bare feet. Yep. There was a big blazing bonfire (actual pic seen here) that burned for hours and then when it burned down, we walked across the red coals.
This past weekend I taught a workshop. And whether you are teaching one or attending one, I have found that there are 3 things that must be takled head-on....
Two years ago I won the very prestigious "Prix des Pastel" Masters Circle Best of Show Award at the IAPS convention. (Trust me - no one was more shocked than me.) I remember an artist coming up to me and saying congratulations, which was then follwed by a statement of something like, "Boy you have really rocketed to fame recently." but with almost an accusatory tone.
When my husband and I were first dating, we went skiing on a very bright sunny day. As we were heading up a ski lift, he asked me to give him an art lesson since he is an engineer and knew I was an artist. I responded by looking down on a row of pine trees that were below us and were casting beautiful shadows from the sun. I said, "ok, what color are the shadows?" He seemed confident when he asnwered, "they are grey." I said, "ok, this is your frist art lesson... grey is not a color."
I have a quiet friend. A shiny, little helper made from astronaut-worthy stuff that has saved my life and the lives of many pastel sticks....
This disease afflicts many artists and causes indecision, mini strokes, (that are timid) jittery nerves, wimpy colors and a false sense of being accomplished. yes, it is the dreaded.... Precious Painting Syndrome.
So I discovered what I call the "powers" of pastel - that not all sticks are created equal. I started to rethink about my past and how I had used watercolors. (I forgot to mention that when I started painting for myself after college, I worked in the watercolor medium.) Now, watercolor takes guts. Once something is down in a watercolor wash, there is no going back without repercussions. It takes a kind of fearlessness (or is it recklessness?) to work in watercolor because watercolor demands that you give up some control. But I loved it. Portraits in watercolor? Bring it on.
So, Senneliers..... When I bought them they were said to be the "best." They were lauded as the "softest" and so I thought they would be just the thing for me. So I made paintings - lots of them. I had hoped to make strong paintings that would pop with color, but matter what I did, I was always disappointed... sound familiar?
When I was between my junior and senior year of high school, I attended a 2-week art class in the summer at a local art center. This was amazing for me and a first - I had not had a real art class yet unless you counted the high school art class where everyone doodled and three erasers at each other!
So why is this blog called the "Power of Pastel?" If you are familiar with my recent work at all, you know that my travels have led me down a very dusty path to a love affair with pastels. I believe pastel paintings - yes, they are considered paintings, and not drawings - can be every bit as powerful as other mediums - oil paintings may get more respect in a gallery setting, and command more money, but there are artists that can create images in pastel that can blow your mind.
There are 3 reasons why I love and highly respect illustrators.
I remember always being facinated with how things looked in space - the feeling of how objects were placed and the invisible pull between them.
So, who am I? I guess that is the best place to start for a blog. Over the years, I have had a varied path as a student, illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, DJ, freelance artist, teacher and portrait painter. I am a mom of three (four, if you count my husband), a caretaker, a wife and a very visual person.